Water pollution generally can loosely be defined as the contamination of water by foreign bodies which can either be soluble or insoluble e.g. dissolved chemicals and solid particles. Water pollution is caused by many factors but this study will focus on the pollution brought about by the spilling of industrial effluents i.e. chemicals coming out of industries and manufacturing firms. Other forms of water pollution include; anthropogenic pollutants emanating from the careless dumping of garbage by people, pesticides from farms and soil erosion e.t.c.
The most dangerous form of water pollution emanates from industries which come in the form of chemicals and very hot water that are either carelessly dumped or later on washed down by surface run-off thus ending up in rivers and lakes inhabited by flora and fauna. Other form of water pollution includes the belching of smoke containing acidic and poisonous gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. These gases accumulate in the atmosphere and later on mix with rain water forming acid rain which when it collects in ponds, lakes and other water reservoirs in substantial quantities end up forming acid rain thus interfering with the water P.H by increasing its acidity levels.
The study also proposes solution to this environmental problem and mitigation measures. It also identifies the various stakeholders who play a very central role in addressing this issue of water pollution.
Environmental Impacts of Water Pollution from Industrial Effluents
Water pollution from industrial effluents is one of the very grave causes of water pollution due to its major effects and the time and cost it take to clean such environments or watered areas that have been polluted. This study will examine the impacts of water pollution from industrial effluents to both human and non-living things, mitigations measures and the stakeholders involved plus their roles in ensuring that there is clean water in all the areas.
The origin of water pollution from industrial effluents can be traced way back to the beginning of industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Many nations of the world especially in the north developed quite a number of industries in an attempt to attain economic development. Many had just emerged from the impacts of the Second World War and were therefore in a hurry to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of development. This development was done without taking into account the impacts that these industries would have on the environment and so development went ahead while the environmental paid the heavy price for it.
Industries generally have a two-fold impact to the environmental and especially on water pollutions. Water pollutions by industries and factories therefore take two forms; one is through the effluents that are constantly being washed away into water courses including hot water that is released into rivers. Secondly, industries through their operations emit poisonous gases; to the atmosphere. These gases which include carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere and later on mix with rain to from acid rain which when combines with the waters in ponds and other water bodies, affect the chemical properties of the water thereby affecting the aquatic lifestyle.
a) Effects Of Water Pollution
All living things depend on water on their survival and therefore whenever one of them gets affected, the others in the food chain follows suit. Excel Water Technologies argues that the presence of high levels of toxic metals in drinking water – Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, and Silver. Pose the greatest threat to human health. Whenever these chemicals get infused in the food chain, they are passed on to the preceding member and when they reach the human being, man also consumes food like fish containing traces of heavy metals in them thus when accumulated in considerable amounts they results in fatal disease like cancer. Water pollution also causes water borne diseases. According to research by Grinning the Planet;
“Waterborne diseases occur when parasites or other disease-causing microorganisms are transmitted via contaminated water, particularly water contaminated by pathogens originating from excreta. These include typhoid, intestinal parasites, and most of the enteric and diarrheal diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses.”
Animals like birds are also affected. When water containing oil and other chemical compounds finds its way into lakes ad ponds, birds and other marine life forms die as a result of poisoning and lack of oxygen. Plants are also affected as the leaves are not able to breathe effectively and carry out the process of transpiration.
b) Proposed Mitigative Strategies Against Water Pollution
Since water pollution is a man’s problem, it can therefore only be solved by man himself. If several basic environmental ethics are adhered to, the issue of a polluted environment will be a thing of the past. Some of the proposed mitigative strategies include; responsible waste disposal. Industries should set a side an area away from wetlands and water bodies where they could dump their waste responsibly. The economic theory of polluter pay principle should be adopted by the government to ensure that whenever there’s an oil spillage thereby causing danger to the general environment, the company bearing the responsibility should foot the bills for cleaning up its mess.
There should also be awareness campaigns both in the media and environmental forums where people are taught on the importance of conserving our environment and also equipped with the necessary know-how on how to go about cleaning the environment.
The governments could also enact an environmental law that would guard against the unscrupulous business men and individuals who would want to dump waste without following the proper procedures.
c) Current Sustainability Strategies And Solutions
In order to attain sustainability for the strategies and solutions mentioned above a few things need to be done. First and foremost, governments need to establish an environmental body which would act as a watch dog against companies and individuals steeped on breaking the law. Such body will have the mandate of not just monitoring and evaluations but also advising the governments on the way forward.
There should also be established an environmental kitty in addition to the budgetary allocations to the environment ministry. Such a kitty will ensure that there are always funds available for running g various environmental programs i.e. capacity building sessions and acquisitions of the latest technology like Geographical information Systems that could be used for monitoring purposes.
d) Challenges of the strategies
The main challenge is sustainability and commitment. The program requires a lot of funds and a dedicated team of professionals who could work tirelessly with a passion for the environment. Another issue involves a situation where a problem straddles across the international boundaries where environmental laws are either none-existent are in conflict with the other country.
e) Stakeholder involvement
These initiative mentioned here would definitely require the support and goodwill of various stakeholders in order to work effectively. According to UNEP, in order to tackle the issue of water pollution effectively, a mechanism should be set up with the government taking the leadership, relevant departments taking the responsibilities, environmental departments carrying out supervision and management, enterprises conducting treatment, and the public supervising and participating so that the pollution treatment effects will last for long term. This therefore calls for coordination among the various stakeholders in order to achieve synergy in environmental conservation. Funding to facilitate various activities is also expected to come from the government. Development partners like NGOs focusing on environment would also be key in achieving this mammoth task. They would provide technical know-how and supplement the government’s finances for running environmental programs. Last but not the least are the industrialists themselves. If they would be engaged in a conversation about the dangers of industrial effluents importance of responsible dumping, a great deal would have been achieved.
In conclusion, its better to appreciate the fact when one area of the environment suffers, other areas suffer as well because we re all in a connected chain. Chemical effluents have been known for centuries to be a very big challenge for many governments not only because they are costly to clean up, but most importantly, many discharges contains non-biodegradable chemicals compounds and heavy metals that pose a great risk to both flora and fauna both aquatic and non-aquatic and therefore its incumbent upon each and every one of us to be conscious about our environment and strive to ensure that its protect and clean by living responsible lifestyles.
Excelwater.com. (n.d). Retrieved June 03, 2010, from http://www.excelwater.com
Grinningplanet.com. (n.d). Retrieved June 04, 2010 from www.grinningplanet.com
unep.org. (n.d). Retrieved June 04, 2010 from www.unep.org